When the chill of fall wafts over the five boroughs, New York City’s unsheltered homeless population descend underground in search of heated subway stations and trains. On the MTA’s R-Line, Leslie awaits the homeless baring sandwiches, sodas and snacks.
Leslie is a panhandler. Instead of asking for money for himself, he accepts contributions, including food, to assist the City’s homeless in the subway. Once homeless, now Leslie’s life is back and on track and panhandling is his way of “giving back.”
According to the 2010 NYC Department of Homeless Services street survey, 1,077–an 11 percent increase from 2009–homeless people live in the subways. Overall, the City’s homeless living above ground increased by more than 50 percent from 1,360 to 2,034.
Panhandling is against the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s rules, but in spite of this Leslie continues soliciting a few times a week.
How subway riders react
Drug abuse and its effect
Leslie’s “subway pitch” (Natural Sound)
How do you feel about NYC panhandlers? Have you ever given them money or food?